Thursday, October 25, 2007


Joan of Arc by Janeen Banko, Toronto Art Expo

Regret and longing
can draw and quarter me
I wish I could take it back
I wish you had loved me more
I didn't notice, or I noticed but
I didn't know what to say
I ran through my chances like
M and Ms in a bowl while I
watched TV too much

It's amazing how little people
can get by on

I read that Jeanne wrote letters
in prearranged code: Any sentence
followed by a carefully inked cross
was a lie, her friends knew.

She recanted, then
found a second wind. I can only
imagine the Cardinals' fury.

I saw an old man who had been young
in the Battle of the Bulge, saying
in one pocket was an extra pair of socks
In the other some K-rations
He rolled his blanket with string and
hung it over his back; all else was
bullets. He didn't change clothes
for six months.
What kind of a father did he become?
When his child wept because the
mashed potatoes had lumps, was he

© Maggie Jochild, 20 October 2007, 11:20 p.m.

(I struggled what to say about this poem. Finally, the simplest way to say what I mean, was just to copy (lightly edited) the personal letter I wrote Maggie asking reproduction permission.)

Dear Maggie,

Your beautiful poem,


May I have your permission to post the whole of your poem to the Group News Blog?

I'd link back to you, commenting, putting a specific Copyright notice on the poem, and so forth. I suspect much of what I write below, would find its way into my comments.

(The art [the painting of Joan] of course I'll attribute to Janeen Banko.)

You're a full grown-up, so I doubt I need mention that Declining is always an acceptable answer to a Request (one of only four possible moves in the conversational dance of a Conversation for Action (requests & promises), other than bullshitting and speculating, both of which stop committed action. Again, because you're you I suspect I need not explain that there's no need to justify or explain a decline if you don't want to; one simply says "No" and that is sufficient with grown-ups, although hopefully the "no" comes attached with a smile and an offer to make requests on other issues in the future.

I do hope however you say yes, Maggie, and allow me to show your poem to a much larger audience. I want to lead folks back to your blog and your other work. *smiles*

It's a stunningly beautiful poem, my personal favorite of everything you've shown us so far. For me, it speaks right to the heart of all those late nights I'm home at 3 in the morning, still working away in boxers on my bed. Kyle (daughter #3, my seventeen year-old) gets up from her room across the hall from me to go the bathroom. I hear her door open, she stumbles down the hall, pee, flush, and then perhaps through the door, "Dad... go to bed!" The children don't understand, can't possibly understand how it is I work 18, 20 hours a day to keep them fed, keep a roof over their heads, keep the heat on and the water flowing. They don't get how while I love what I do, how I love them and wouldn't trade being their Dad for anything, how truly being their father is the best ever, simply the best... shit, I don't even know how to say it without turning it into a "thing."

It isn't a "thing." It isn't the best "thing" that has ever happened to me. They and taking care of them is not some "thing." Being the Dad of my children IS my life. Ask me who I am, and yeah, there's all this other stuff I say, but strip all that way, and under it all, who I am is I'm Dad. It is the privilege of my life to be their father.

So at 3 in the morning when I'm posting, or working on work-work stuff, or reading on something who the hell knows how it might relate to whatever someday, or when I've put in a 90-100 hour week (or four 110 hour weeks as I did in September, I don't expect my children to get it at all. I have a full-time job AND a start-up company. WTF am I thinking? Oh, and I'm a father. *cracks up* Not to mention being a great friend to a number of people, which takes a certain amount of time to do in a responsible manner.

Each of us has had to suck it up, carry our own lumps of potatoes back from our wars. All the death I saw. The ones I saved. The ones I didn't. And the ones I caused. All that is right there in the fucking lumps of potatoes, the clothes I went without changing for months and months, the years spent in my room alone with the television.

For years, after the suicide attempt, as my doctors and I didn't even know enough to try different drugs -- didn't know I was missing -- my children, brave and alone in our home sat in their room or played with their friends, just across the hall from mine, as I sat quietly in my room, all alone, not even home.

They are so glad I'm home now.


"I didn't notice, or I noticed but
I didn't know what to say

* * * *

It's amazing how little people
can get by on"

You speak directly to my heart. I want to share you with the world.

*hugs* to an old dear friend, whose history I'm only beginning to know.

Note: Maggie's poem, the photo of the painting of Joan of Arc, and my letter are copyrighted © 2007 to their creators: Maggie Jochild, Janeen Banko, and myself, respectively.